Music Play with Early Years conference plus BCMG at Ninestiles

Last Thursday I had a pretty busy day!

Went to Music Play with Early Years conference run by Music Leader. Felt a little like I stuck out like a sore thumb… it appears men are vastly under-represented in the world of Early Years music… ie only 3 men in the entire conference… And I know no harm was meant by the speakers at the conference but I’m not sure highlighting my presence as a token male was the best way to approach this…

It did raise the question of why there aren’t more males working in early years? (answers on a postcard) I think it is (unfortunately) quite a taboo direction for men to go in. Even in this day and age I think people raise an eyebrow at the thought of a male early years worker. (This is also true of male nurses, according to my nurse friend – although they are loved by hospitals, society in general has a bit of  thing about it!)

Anyway, the conference brought two things to my attention – the first was brought up by Dr Susan Young about the need for child-led, adult-led and child-and-adult-led forms of activity for the best outcome. The last of these is the activity which is lacking in music play settings- this I think is partly because it is the hardest form of activity to successfully achieve.

The other thing was the very interesting teaching methods of Sandra Barefoot & Sarah Moody from Visible Thinking. Their creative use of art, drama and music for early years play seemed like a great idea – particularly the use of what essentially turn into graphic scores as you demonstrate. Its about using marking so that the sounds made on instruments are represented on paper. This seemed to engage children on a different level, and seemed like a great way to provide another gateway by which children can access the music.

In the evening I did a pre-concert workshop at Ninestiles School in Yardley with BCMG before their first Urban Tour concert. The concert turned out really well. The three percussionists – Simon Limbrick, Julian Warburton and Scott Wilson did a great job. I particularly enjoyed Tag by Philip Cashian which has real character to it despite the chance techniques employed during the reading of the score. And of course, Okho by Xenakis is a fantastic piece – always a winner for me!

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